There's nothing like a sad scene to make you emotionally invested in an anime. These emotional moments may also compel you to throw your computer out the window, tears streaming as you yell at the series for making you experience actual feelings.
Naturally, the saddest anime scenes often revolve around the most poignant anime deaths. For example, Maes Hughes's funeral in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is one of those sequences seared into your mind forever. Though loss plays a part in many of these devastating anime scenes, not all of anime's most heart-wrenching moments involve death. When a young abuse victim cries over experiencing kindness for the first time, it's enough to build a lump in your throat.
In some cases, these depressing scenes come from anime with tragic themes in general. In addition to the infamous death scene, Clannad comes chock-full of other somber moments. Other instances involve anime with a rather lighthearted or adventure-oriented tone, making the devastation all the more earth-shattering.
If you thought you would never cry over Pokémon, you should watch the final battle in the first movie one more time. For people who love emotional roller coasters as much as physical ones, these devastating anime scenes will send you on the ride of your life.
The death of Maes Hughes traumatized practically the entire anime community. If you weren't affected, chances are you didn't watch it. At Hughes's funeral, the surviving loved ones display all their raw, emotional pain. Whether it's Roy Mustang saying he understands the Elrics' reasons for human transmutation, or Elicia, Hughes's young daughter, sobbing as they're covering her daddy in dirt, the funeral is a devastating scene.
Although the premise of Assassination Classroom involves a bunch of kids trying to murder their teacher, it's still devastating when he dies.
The reason they try to kill their teacher, whom they call Korosensei, is because he threatens to destroy the planet in a year unless someone can stop him. In exchange for not obliterating Earth immediately, he demands to instruct Class 3-E of Kunugigaoka Junior High School.
The former teacher of this class was a woman Korosensei met in the experimental laboratory. She turned him into a deadly time bomb. Korosensei wants to use his remaining time to help these kids believe in their power and inherent worth by training them as assassins.
His lessons work startlingly well, and by the time the students have to kill Korosensei to save the planet, he already helped each one of them reach their fullest potential. Not one member of Class 3-E wants Korosensei to die, so when his student Nagisa takes responsibility and does the job, the whole class openly sobs. The soaring music and starry visuals underscore the misery of the scene.
The end of Your Lie in April is as beautiful as it is excruciating. As Kaori Miyazono undergoes a risky surgery, Kousei Arima performs without her at a music competition. When Kaori appears beside him on violin, he knows this means her surgery was unsuccessful. The presence is an apparition.
Kousei must keep playing, knowing full well one of his closest friends is gone. You will never again listen to Chopin's "Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op. 23" without crying.
After the heartwrenching final collaboration between Kaori's ghost and Kousei, he receives a letter. It reveals Kaori's untold love for Kousei. On top of the death, there's a deep sense of regret about how the two never connected as they should have.
Asuma’s death is sad on its own, but it feels particularly heartwrenching to watch his loved ones react to it. The way Shikamaru Nara takes in the news is especially somber. At first, he tries not to show any visible reaction, instead choosing to bottle up his sadness. Knowing the dangers of refusing to mourn, his father, Shikaku, provokes him into expressing his emotions. Shikamaru bursts into tears.
Shikaku then leaves his son alone to mourn in private, saying, “Let it all out... I’ll pick up the pieces.” What an amazing father! The careful animation, a restrained color scheme, and moving soundtrack add to the pathos of the scene. If you watch knowing what happens to Shikaku later in the anime, you'll feel even worse.